Geoelectrical behavior of a Fault Zone: the meaning od the electrical resistivity of metric-scale segments of the Liquiñe-Ofqui and the Arc-oblique Long-lived Fault Systems, Southern Andes

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Tomas Roquer1,2, Gloria Arancibia1, Gonzalo A Yanez1, Nicolás Pérez-Estay1, Julie V Rowland3, Ronny Figueroa1 and Pablo Cristián Iturrieta1, (1)Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile, (2)Andean Geothermal Center of Excellence, Santiago, Chile, (3)University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
The geoelectrical behavior of blind fault zones has been studied by different authors at decametric-to-kilometric scales, and inferred to reveal the dimensions of the main structural domains of a fault zone (core vs. damage zone). However, there is still a lack in the application of electrical methods in exposed fault zones, despite the importance of validating the inferences based on electrical measurements with direct geologic observation. In this study we correlate the results of structural mapping and geoelectrical measurements in two metric-scale, very well exposed segments of the Liquiñe-Ofqui Fault System (LOFS) and the Arc-oblique Long-lived Fault System (ALFS), Southern Andes. The LOFS is an active dextral and dextral-normal ca. 1200-km-long Cenozoic intra-arc structure that strikes NNE to NE. Although the LOFS and the ALFS cross-cut each other, the ALFS is an apparently older basement NW-striking fault system where mainly sinistral movement is recorded. Two 22-m-long transects were mapped revealing in both examples a simple core and an assymetric damage zone with more frequency of fractures in the hanging wall than in the footwall. The LOFS outcrop showed a WNW-striking, 65°S-dipping core; the ALFS, a NW-striking, 60°SW-dipping core. A 2D direct-current electrical survey was made at each locality, orthogonal to the respective strike of the core. The field installation of the electrical survey used two electrode configurations for each outcrop: (1) electrodes were put in a vertical wall of rock, which gives a resistivity profile in plan view; and (2) electrodes were put in the ground, which gives a cross-section resistivity profile. The combined structural and electrical results suggest that: (1) it is possible to discriminate the geoelectrical response of the main metric-scale structural domains: the core and the fractured damage zones are relative conductors (20-200 ohm-m), whereas the less fractured damage zones are relative resistive volumes (500-1400 ohm-m); (2) geometrical and spatial information can be obtained from the geoelectrical response, specially in the case of the survey made in the vertical wall of rock. Our results provide direct proof that the electrical resisitivity methods can be used to characterize blind or exposed fault zones at least at a metric-to-decametric scale.